The Lowdown Hub

The richest man Jeff Bezos's ex-wife MacKenzie Scott gives away $4.2bn in four months to charity.

The former wife of the Amazon founder wanted to help the vulnerable as the pandemic hits lives like a wrecking ball'

In a round of donations early this year, Ms. Scott gave away nearly $1.7 billion

MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has given $4.2bn (£3.1bn) to groups helping the vulnerable as the pandemic hits lives like "a wrecking ball." Ms. Scott, who formerly went by the name MacKenzie Bezos, pledged to donate the bulk of her wealth to charity last year following her separation from Mr. Bezos. In a round of donations early this year, Ms. Scott gave nearly $1.7bn to groups devoted to race, gender, and economic equality, as well as other social causes. The donations mean Ms. Scott will have now given away nearly 12pc of her total wealth post-settlement within just 20 months of acquiring it. "This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling," Ms. Scott said. "Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of colour, and for people living in poverty." Meanwhile, she noted, the wealth of billionaires has substantially increased.

The donations have placed her among a cohort of philanthropic billionaires who have given away vast sums in recent years. According to Forbes, last year Indian business tycoon Azim Premji gave away a $7.6bn stake in IT firm Wipro Limited to his own charity The Azim Premji Foundation. Warren Buffett also gave away some $3.6bn (£2.6bn) in Berkshire Hathaway stock last year to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among others, bringing his total donations since 2006 to $38bn. Ms. Scott’s ex-husband Mr. Bezos also announced this year an initial 16 recipients for his $10bn (£7.4bn) Earth fund, with grants to the World Wildlife Fund and others totaling $791m. In Britain, former Sainsbury's chairman Lord Sainsbury, Wolfson Foundation chairman Dame Janet de Botton, and hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn are among the country’s most generous philanthropists according to the Sunday Times Giving List 2020. Charities face shortfall despite rising in will giving British charities are facing a £10bn funding shortfall this year as a result of the Covid pandemic, despite the number of wills containing charitable donations of more than £1m on the rise. This is likely down to millionaires looking to take advantage of generous inheritance tax breaks by gifting significant chunks of their restates to good causes, experts said. Big donations benefit from a large death tax discount, which sees the rate drops from the typical 40pc to 36pc if at least a tenth of an estate is left to charity.